Though AP declared Democrat Richard Pan the winner Wednesday with 49 % to 46% and a 3,000-vote lead over antigay Prop 8 author Andy Pugno (pictured), the Republican still has not conceded the race in the traditional GOP 5th Assembly District in suburban Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee, meanwhile, says Pan has declared victory.
More than 140,000 unprocessed absentee and provisional ballots in Sacramento and Placer counties, but the Bee says it is unclear how many of those fall within the 5th district, which has a 40 to 38 percent registration edge for Republicans.
Interestingly, while Pugno's Prop 8 friends apparently gave the attorney and Prop 8 and Prop 22 author a fundraising boost early on - his campaign website promotes him as a small businessman and appears scrubbed of any reference to Prop 8 - which, according to Stonewall Democrats of Greater Sacramento - was his small business:
Andrew Pugno is using his own personal wealth (much of which was paid to him from the Yes on 8 Campaign) along with hundreds of thousands of dollars he is raising from Yes on 8 mailing lists to simply buy his way into this Assembly Seat.
During the year 2008, the Yes on 8 Campaign made over $200,000 in expenditures to the Law Offices of Andrew Pugno. Andrew Pugno, literally made hundreds of thousands of dollars taking away gay couples' marriage rights. Pugno has now "loaned" his Campaign Committee Account an interesting amount of money: $200,000!
Pan, a pediatrician and UC Davis medical school professor, had backing from the California Democratic Party, labor and hundreds of volunteers - many of whom were LGBT from Equality California and Stonewall. He said voters had a "clear choice:" "You had someone who has made a career out of dividing people and advocating a divisive issue, and I have a record of bringing people together to solve problems and addressing issues based in our communities."
The Bees reports that the "Republican Party reported roughly $800,000 in campaign contributions and television ads. Gay marriage opponents also aired television ads in the district blasting Pan." Pugno wouldn't give his hometown newspaper a comment on the election results.
Openly gay Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said Pan's win and that of another Assembly pickup gave Democrats their largest majority since 1978 and made California the only state in the nation where Democrats did not lose seats in the state Legislature. Perez told The Bee: "We were very effective in reminding voters that we are fighting for jobs and we are fighting to keep the doors of opportunity open for everyone."
Chad Griffin, President of the Board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group sponsoring the federal challenge to Prop 8, issued this statement on the elections, including Pugno:
"Yesterday's election in California saw equality triumph, with each and every statewide anti-equality candidate defeated. ??The election also saw Andy Pugno, the chief architect of Prop. 8 who also co-led the legal team defending the measure in federal court, losing an Assembly seat held by his party for decades, even with the advantage of the conservative surge that swept through the nation's legislative districts.??Meg Whitman and Steve Cooley tried to win by vowing to appeal the federal court decision overturning Prop. 8. Whitman failed and it looks like Cooley will, too.??Carly Fiorina tried to push herself over the top by opposing equality. She failed. ??Gavin Newsom, who is best known as a marriage equality leader, overwhelmed the sitting Lt. Governor.
The contrast with 2008, when despite the historic Obama election, Prop. 8 was passed by the voters, is startling. This year, despite the rising conservative tide, equality triumphed. The difference is that the political rhetoric that dominated the Prop. 8 campaign has been replaced by a discussion of the facts through efforts like the Foundation's successful federal court case for marriage equality.??This nation was founded on the principle that all Americans are created equal, and our Constitution requires that every American be treated equally under the law. That is something all Americans can agree on, and more and more people are understanding that marriage equality is rooted in our nation's fundamental values."